People have asked me at times why I don’t do certain things it seems I should. In simplest terms, it’s usually because I’m busy doing something else. But in the truest sense, I don’t do these other things because they do not make me happy. And if someone says, “but for this or that reason you ought to do it anyway”, my feeling is: if it causes me happiness, whatever it is, I want nothing to do with it.
This goes to the extreme limit, where if God Himself were to make me unhappy, I would turn my back on Him. I say this, because it is crucial to understand how important joy is. It is like light; and if something in your life claims to be the Sun, yet increases darkness – it is not the sun. “God” is just a word, after all. That men could slave themselves to a concept without jduging its effect makes no sense. Rather, we must understand what the signs of “God” should be, so that if we find these sings we know we’re on the right track. And conversely, when those signs are absent, then we have yet to find the God we’re looking for.
The mind is not the place to define God, because it’s capable of wanting what it desires despite every outcome. All senseless war comes from this capacity of the mind to invent its own objectives. What we need, then, is a faculty which cannot be deceived, and that we may trust to guide us faithfully on the journeys of our inward life, such that we do not accept any substitutes.
Love is like this. It cannot be fooled. It is still fallible in the virtues of its object, but it is infallible with regard to its own truth. Simply put, being in love cannot be faked.
If the presence of love is dependable, but its object is not, we still need something to prove our orientation. Is our life going wrongly? Is there something more we should know?
When love, even fallible love, is first fulfilled, there comes with it an ecstasy that alone had bred and kept whole legions of poets. This feeling of “communion”, or joining, is a proof that love has found its object – whatever the nature of that desired one may be.
But let us suppose that the better the goal love is aimed toward, the finer, more exalted, and more complete the feeling of communion should be. If we allow this, then “God” may be defined as “He Who offers the most perfect communion possible”, and the soul as “that in man which desires such a communion.” That is, the soul is evidenced by our desire to be happy, and God, by the discovery of such happiness.
With this understanding, whatever God we believe in may be judged according to our own state in relationship with Him. If even worldly lovers exceed the joys we find in Divinity, this proves that what we believe in is not divine; at least, not we have accepted in the name of “God”.
Likewise, religion, if its purpose is to draw us nearer the one true God, must aid in forming this perfect communion. So that if there is no joy, there is no true religion. If we were to follow a text on romance that founded no relationship, we ought to throw it away. At least, our reading must be wrong; because the proof of anything is in the fruit it offers. If such fruit is absent, it is worthless thing, and misadvertised.
If another person questions these definitions of God and soul, I am interested to know what he seeks from a different God – possessing as he must a different soul. To me, happiness is the one quality that gives meaning to existence. In the midst of that state, I need nothing else, or any eternity, because that one instant is both beginning and end – and hence beyond all time or boundaries.
But if one agree with these definitions, he is compelled to judge fairly the aims and pursuits of his life in such terms. That is, if one possess a “soul” who desires happiness; and if this soul yearns for a “God” Who fulfills that happiness to the utmost degree; then it is admitted that happiness is the point round which these terms revolve: the pivot of their dance, as it were: the heart of their turning on the wheel of events.
Whenever happiness is increased, it means these two endpoints are drawing nearer; and whenever joy is absent, their distance should be inferred. If we pursue the mystical path – by which I mean, a life lived for the sake of such a soul finding such a God – -then happiness is the criterion to show progress or decline. To the successful soul, his happiness will increase day by day, and by definition he will know rejoicing only insofar as he draws nearer his Aim. On the other hand, a soul who has strayed far from its path may know this by the emptiness, the draining fatigue, the gathering weariness that threatens to crush his life.
For these reasons, not only should we never underestimate the role of joy in our spiritual life, but must know it as our compass, our proof, our sustaining confirmation. If not, then what God do we seek? What does that God offer that we should continue, without the glory of His presence to draw us onward?